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Sacramento Kings

Finally, some good news: Sacramento Kings Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Greivis Vasquez, SG Ben McLemore, SF John Salmons, PF Jason Thompson, C DeMarcus Cousins
Key Bench Contributors: PG Isaiah Thomas, SG Marcus Thornton, SG Jimmer Freddette, SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF Patrick Patterson, C Chuck Hayes
Offseason Additions: Greivis Vasquez, Ben McLemore (7th overall pick), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF Carl Landry (out 3-4 months)
Offseason Subtractions: G/F Tyreke Evans
FACT OR FICTION: After an offseason of big changes in the roster and on the business side, the refocused Kings have a shot at the playoffs.

FICTION. Right away, fiction. Definite, best-selling fiction. But it might not be that way for long.
The Sacramento Kings are finally out of the thrall of the Maloof ownership and into the skinny, yet loving arms of new majority owner Vivek Ranadive. The franchise cleared out nearly it’s entire infrastructure this summer, dismissing longtime GM Geoff Petrie and head coach Keith Smart, who no doubt did their parts in the organization’s seven year layoff from the postseason. In their places Ranadive hired away personnel from franchises with recent success: Pete D’Allessandro, a former Denver Nuggets assistant GM, and Mike Malone, former Golden State Warriors assistant coach.… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans get: G Tyreke Evans, C Jeff Withey
Sacramento Kings get: PG Greivis Vasquez, two 2nd round picks
Portland Trailblazers get: C Robin Lopez, PG Terrel Harris
One of the worst kept secrets in all of basketball came to pass today, as Tyreke Evans was finally signed and traded to the New Orleans Hornets from the Sacramento Kings with a new four year, $44 million dollar contract. In return for their cooperation in not matching Evans’ offer sheet, Sacto received 2013 Most Improved Player runner-up Greivis Vasquez. The Portland Trailblazers completed the deal, sending 2013 second round pick C Jeff Withey to NOLA and taking on Robin Lopez. … Read more...

Bad NBA Contract of the Week: Travis Outlaw

(In the vein of the highly esteemed David Shoemaker, AKA The Masked Man’s Deadspin column entitled “Dead Wrestler of the Week”, we here at MAMBINO are going to parse our way through the worst contracts the NBA has to offer. Part dedication to the great men who have swindled their way to big checks, part commemoration to GMs that should have been fired and part commentary on the ills of a capitalist society gone wrong, we’ll be here every week with a look at the L’s worst deals)
Travis Outlaw
Contract: 5 years, $35 million
Signed by:
New Jersey Nets
Salary this season: $7 million
2013 Slash Line: 4.7/1.8/0.4 in 25 games
Expires: 2015

The Nets are clearing cap space for a free-agent class that includes James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but James is the unmistakable target. So much so, the Nets have an internal business plan for the move into the new Brooklyn arena that includes a modest section on his eventual recruitment, estimates of his marketing worth and the salary-cap space that needs to be cleared for his signing.
This is the kind of advanced planning every team does, but there’s a credibility to the Nets’ pursuit that comes out of Jay-Z’s relationship.
Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports, February 25th, 2008

That excerpt was taken from a column written more than 28 months before LeBron James could even think about becoming a free agent in the summer of 2010. The impending departure of the King was a NBA storyline for over two years in a media storm like few before it. Everyone knew that come July 1st, the course of league history would be changed depending on where the then 26 year-old would sign. Like Woj wrote, every team has advanced planning on their minds when designing the future of the franchise. Many of them had their eye on the now-three-time MVP in 2008, but only a few had the financial and logical wherewithal to actually involve themselves in the discussion.
For the Nets and their downtrodden fans wallowing within a second city standing, the thought of signing a premier free agent was a laughable dream for much of the franchise’s history. Even as the team had been to the Finals just as many times in the last 35 years as their Manhattan dwelling sister squad, the Nets’ ability to sign superstars was always dimmed by it’s decrepit arena mired in the swamps of New Jersey, with a fair weather fan base and questionable support from the community. Even as the team acquired players like All-NBA players like Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Dikembe Mutumbo to suit up for them, stars rarely came to the Jerz on their own free will. Kind of like real life.
That all changed when former owner Bruce Ratner put into motion a plan to move the Nets to Brooklyn and transitioned stewardship of the team to new owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokorhov. Now with one of the richest men in the world backing their payroll and an upcoming move into a sparkling new arena in a much more populous, centrally located and “cool” location in Brooklyn, the Nets and their fans could dare to hope.… Read more...

The NBA Finally Admits It Was Wrong, Wrongs Another City

Back in February of last year I wrote that the NBA NEEDS Seattle and today, almost a year later, David Stern has approved a deal that brings professional ball back to the Emerald City. The deal allows the Sacramento Kings to finish up the season in “cow-town” before moving to Key Arena in Seattle for the 2013-14 season.

Before I go into the specifics and the celebration that has already commenced across the Twitter/sports universe in Washington state, I want to point out first and foremost that this is not exactly how Seattle sports fans wanted to get a team back. Having gone through the evil leadership of the Clay ownership group, Sonics fans have an acute awareness of how shitty it feels to have your hometown team stripped out from underneath you. So a deep apology out to those in Sacramento who are hearing this news and are heartbroken to lose their only pro franchise. At least in Seattle there were the Seahawks, Mariners, and eventually the Sounders left in the wake of the ex-Thunder’s departure. This case is certainly a different story of a town leaving town.

Two big reasons why:

1. The Maloof Brothers suck – at most things

  • The Maloof brothers were an incompetent ownership group in every sense unless you are judging them on their ability to milk their franchise for any/every possible ounce of profit. They have taunted the local government in California into striking phenomenal deals that favor them (most recently this). They have bankrupted their team and though they had a strong stretch losing to Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers every year, they have zero NBA titles to show for their efforts (Editor’s note: Tim Donaghy, we’ll be sending you that yearly fruit basket shortly).
  • Their family had one serious cash cow–booze. The Maloofs have exclusive distribution rights over Corona, Coors, Guinness, Heineken, and other brews. They sold those rights in 2010 for a boatload of cash. In the middle of a recession. Come on.
  • The other ventures started by the brothers (a music company, a skateboarding contest series, a film production company) haven”t turn too much of a profit.
  • Clay Bennett was very good at a whole bunch of financial ventures. He is the Chairman of the Dorchest Capital Corporation, a hedge fund giant, and has brought in plenty of jobs and money to Oklahoma City. He made his own empire (though his in-laws are wealthy and used to have a stake in the Texas Rangers).
2. The Maloofs purchased the team with no intention to move
  • When Clay Bennett and his ownership group bought the Sonics they said all the right things about wanting to stay in Seattle. At the time they had a recently renovated Key Arena and a fan base supporting a poor on the court product. Then came talk that the team would not be profitable unless it had a brand new arena, one that needed to be financed by Seattle tax payers. The original overtures of wanting to keep the Sonics in Seattle shifted quickly, and less than five years later those hideous blue jerseys were seen for the first time in OKC. 
  • The Maloofs intended to build a champion off the bat. They purchased top notch players, drafted decently, hired solid coaches, and were legitimate contenders in the West. Their stadium (then ARCO Arena) was reviled by opposing players for its noise and intensity. They certainly were screwed on their timeline as they had to get by Shaq, Kobe, Timmy (and later, the Mavs) to get anywhere in the playoffs. Once the Maloofs got bored with their toy basketball team, it became time to start stripping it for parts and angling for profits from the c

Another Year of Mediocrity in Sacramento – Kings Season Preview

Is DeMarcus ready to lead?

Starting Five: PG Tyreke Evans, SG Marcus Thornton, SF John Salmons, PF DeMarcus Cousins, C Jason Thompson

Bench Players: PG Isaiah Thomas, SF James Johnson, PG Aaron Brooks, PG Jimmer Fredette, C Chuck Hayes, SF Tyler Honeycutt, SF Travis Outlaw, PF Thomas Robinson

Key Additions: PF Thomas Robinson, PG Aaron Brooks

Key Subtractions: PF JJ Hickson

As a Dodgers fan who suffered through the McCourt era, I feel for the beleaguered Sacramento Kings fans. After McCourt used the Dodgers as a personal piggybank and pay Russian psychics to “boost” team performance, it’s refreshing to see that Frank has competition for the worst ownership in sports over the last decade: the Maloofs. The Maloofs have spent the last five years trying to hold the city of Sacramento hostage for a new arena deal, tried to renege after they got it, and almost bolted for Anaheim when a local businessman was stupid enough to guarantee their personal debts.

From a basketball perspective, the Kings have been flailing since the Chris Webber era ended and haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. They’re an NBA team that has had plenty of high lottery picks and intriguing coaching hires, but has never been able to put it all together or build momentum towards a perennial playoff team. Unfortunately for Kings fans, this doesn’t look like the year that everything will change for them.

There’s no doubt they have talent – DeMarcus Cousins is among the best young big men in the league, Tyreke Evans looked like a future superstar as recently as two seasons ago, and some of their young talent like Isaiah Thomas has been surprisingly effective early on in their career. They are at least two deep at every position. Keith Smart looks like a coach with a powerful connection to his young players and may stick around the league for a little bit. If you’re so inclined, there’s plenty of reason for optimism for the future in Sacramento (if they indeed stay there).

There are a few problems with this roster that limit its upside. Tyreke has regressed and they’ve added me-first shooter Marcus Thornton as their new SG, making their backcourt an effective blackhole. Jason Thompson has never been able to justify being a lottery pick, but the addition of Thomas Robinson may just solve that problem. However, with Fredette, Aaron Brooks, and the rest of the reserves, you just don’t know what you’re going to get. Furthermore, the Kings are ostensibly going to try to play five guards this year and have four small forwards who’d like to see the court as well. What’s the 10-man rotation going to be?

Like many young teams that don’t have the pieces to make a real run at the playoffs, the odds are that we’ll see Sacramento maneuvering for a top draft pick in the 2013 lottery. With young teams the secret is always deciding when to stop stockpiling assets around the core, surround the stars with some veteran leadership, and make a run at the playoffs. The Celtics played it to perfection in 2007, but no one else has gotten even close (sorry Houston). It’s not time for that in Sacramento yet, but another lottery pick and additional development from Cousins/Evans/Robinson may be just the ticket.

Longing for the good old days in Sacramento

Best Case Scenario: I don’t see this squad, which won 1/3 of its games last year and remains more or less the same on paper, making the playoffs. Their best case scenario is a spirited season that allows them to develop their talent, become optimistic about 2013-14, and still results in a reasonably high lottery pick. Like Mi… Read more...

Burning Question #20: Can the city keep their Sacramento Kings? Where will their rumored destination be?

Why is this even a question?

Sacramento basketball is no longer relevant. This much is obvious. They have not been to the playoffs in 5 seasons and in which they have won no more than 38 games. Each rebuilding effort they’ve gone through since the Chris Webber trade has been met with disappointment. Jason Thompson, Kevin Martin, Spencer Hawes and John Salmons have all had their part of a “new era for the Sacramento Kings” and each has failed to bring the team any closer to the glory days that were sadly only 8 years ago. The Kings have gotten so bad that even I, who once owned a “Sacramento Queens” shirt, feels bad about their downfall and once certain-demise.

So why do the Kings even rank amongst the top 20 burning questions of this better-late-than-never NBA season? For three reasons.

1) This current Kings squad, which I expect to be one of the worst in the entire league, has the best core prospects the team has collected since over a decade ago. DeMarcus Cousins is as legitimate of a young big man as you can find. While his emotional temperament comes from the Metta World Peace, JR Smith and DeShawn Stevenson school of etiquette, its rare that you’ll find a 21 year old (!)
that has a 15-foot jumper, the ability to be an elite rebounder, a true back to the basket offensive game and a bruising 7 foot, 270 pound frame. JJ Hickson, who was acquired by the Kings right before the lockout in a trade for Omri Casspi, is the perfect compliment in the high post to Cousins on the low block. Tyreke Evans, the only rookie other than Michael, Magic, Oscar and LeBron to average 20/5/5 his first season, will potentially be moved over to the 2-guard, as it would allow him as a shoot-first point guard to do so without the criticism handed to such qalified players. Most importantly, Evans will be moved in order to facilitate the coming of…the Jimmer.

2) Jimmer Fredette is one of the most anticipated players to come out of college in the last decade. Notice that I didn’t say “best”, “most skilled”, but rather “anticipated”. His 40 foot jumpers, 30 point scoring binges and wild tournament wins have given him a reputation that far precedes his diminutive stature. He was an exciting player, and the anticipation of what he will be at the professional level only heightens expectations.

But then there’s everything else. The critics have lambasted Fredette for playing matador defense, if even that, and focusing entirely on scoring rather than stopping anyone. His lack of NBA size could limit how effective his penetration game could be, as well as being able to take opponents off the dribble into an easy jumper. He averaged only 4.3 assists a game, which is rendered rather unimpressive next to his 3.5 turnovers per contest. Those statistics might be fine for an NBA shooting guard, but again his size might put the limit on his position to a point guard. He is a fantastically exciting collegiate athlete whose entrance into the professional ranks has created an equal amount of fanfare as he has questions about his ability. He could be the NBA’s version of Tim Tebow.

Both Tebow and Fredette are both fundamentally flawed players whose passion and drive might cause people to overlook potential detriments to his team. Jimmer’s mystique in Sactown might be akin to what is happening in Denver right now. I might hate him that much. I could go on and on, but the truth is that, like Tebow, we won’t know until he steps onto a court in a month. Regardless of how ready he is, Jimmer Fred… Read more...

If I were GM of…The Sacramento Kings

As I covered the situation with the Kings at length in a recent post, this once mighty franchise has fallen on especially hard times.

On the surface, it seems like the Kings are not only in a tough spot in regards to their tenuous location and ownership situation, BUT…looking at their roster, I have to admit that they are not entirely without a future. Let’s take a look at their payroll situation for the upcoming season:

Beno Udrih: 7.2 million
Francisco Garcia: 5.8 million
Tyreke Evans: 4.15 million
DeMarcus Cousins: 3.6 million
Jason Thompson: 3 million
Omri Casspi: 1.3 million
Donte Green: 1.67 million
Darnell Jackson: 1 million (qualifying offer)
Jermaine Taylor: 884,293 (team option)
Hassan Whiteside: 788,872
Pooh Jeter: 788,872
Total: 27.62 million

Samuel Dalembert: 12.2 million
Marquis Daniels: 2.47 million
Antoine Wright: 992,680
Luther Head: 992,680
Marcus Thornton: 473,604
Total: 17 million

There are a few things to keep in mind here: For starters, regardless of their cap space, this team is not spending any more money than they need to. They are a young, rebuilding squad, and I’m pretty sure no one is mistaking them for players in the Summer 2012 Dwight Howard/Chris Paul sweepstakes. Like New Orleans, this team has a very uncertain future, in addition to simply bleeding money by the year. Any moves they make are going to be to make this team simply watchable and to be slightly above the minimum cap threshold (wow, how many teams are saying that these days? I’ll give you a hint, and it rhymes with “no one”), probably nothing more.

This team is terrible. I’m pretty sure no one is making that mistake. No matter what the result is of the draft, or a free agent signing, I have full confidence saying that this team is not making the playoffs next year.

1). Sign Marcus Thornton to a 4 year, $24 million dollar deal

I would even go as high as 27 million for young Marcus. He is a prodigious scorer and instant offense either in your starting lineup or off the bench. He seems to like playing in Sacto, which is something that cannot be valued with numbers or metrics.

2). Take the best available with the number 7 pick, except if that best available person is Kemba Walker

The Kings are a little SOL in this scenario – they really needed a true point. At his best, Tyreke does a somewhat unflattering, yet passable Allen Iverson impersonation. But I always felt that AI’s best years were when he played off-guard with an unselfish point in Philly (Eric Snow) – I’d prescribe the same recipe for ‘Reke. Unfortunately, at 7, the Kings probably aren’t going to get that type of PG.

The gurus at have the Kings taking Kemba Walker at the number 7 slot. I feel that on his best day, Kemba does a somewhat unflatting, yet passable Tyreke Evans impersonation. While the Kings don’t really have the leeway to draft based on need at this point, Kemba Walker isn’t the way to go. He has little defensive ability, limited passing skills and of course, his durability will always be in question considering his 5’10” stature. I think the Kings already have a guy like this on the team, except he’s 6’5″ and is better on all those fronts. At this point in the draft, I’d take the most talented player…as long as that player isn’t Kemba Walker.

3). Try to get any free agent power forward to sign

Even with multiple draft picks and a potential 7 million dollar payday for Ma… Read more...

YOUR…2003 Anaheim Royals

As the Sacramento Kings were days away from being located to Anaheim, it still surprises me that a team so close to winning a championship not 10 years ago could tumble so far.

It all got me thinking back to May 2002, when the rivalry between the Lakers and the Kings was at its zenith. At the time, the Giants hadn’t yet been relevant, the Celtics were watching Antoine Walker throw up 7 threes a game and making 29% of them and Brian Windhorst was still following some teenage phenom around Akron, Ohio. I didn’t have any other outlet for my hate – so it all got funneled towards the team that threatened title hopes for YOUR…Los Angeles Lakers.

I hated Vlade’s doughy face and how big and slobberly his lower lip would get when he vehemently disputed a foul that he very obviously committed. I hated Chris Webber’s face of fake confidence during the game, but loved the well-worn look of defeat that adorned him after yet another missed opportunity. I hated Mike Bibby’s face of legitimate confidence and especially hated when he played like one of the 5 best guys in the league. I hated Hedo Turkoglu’s face, which set just right below his frosted tips and just behind a moustache that even I scoffed at. I hated Doug Christie’s face…that’s it, I just hated his face.

The 2002 Western Conference Finals were undoubtedly the toughest test that the Shaquille-Kobe-Phil Lakers squad faced. The Kings were bigger, stronger and more talented. Everything about them seemed to be falling into place with their guys playing at the height of their powers. Chris Webber looked like a future Hall-of-Famer and Mike Bibby challenged Kobe and Reggie for the mythologized title of “most clutch”. They seemed ready to carry the baton. The Kings were hungry – but not as hungry as their fans. After 15 years of losing and beat downs from their rivals in neighboring Portland and Los Angeles, the fans could sense that their beloved team was on the verge of breakthrough. The Kings and their loyal followers had all the momentum in the world – one that not even a miracle three-point by Big Shot Rob could break (everyone remembers that shot from the series, but no one remembers that Mike Bibby followed that up with this in game 5).

Game 7 was on June 2nd, 2002. In Sacramento, with a rabid home crowd behind them, the Kings played with all the ferocity and confidence in the world. The way that the fans were reacting before the game, it felt like they were going to win before playing a minute. The Kings believed that they were the better men and there was no way that the Lakers could come into their house and their town and halt the championship dynasty they were about to build. But – they didn’t get it done.

From June 2nd, 2002 going forward, the Kings were never the same. With the Lakers eliminated in the 2003 postseason by the Spurs, many proclaimed the Kings the favorite to win the chip. It seemed altogether too appropriate when Chris Webber’s knees couldn’t support the symbolic weight of such a responsibility. The next year didn’t they didn’t fare any better, as Kevin Garnett and his Timberwolves survived a seven-game war, with Chris Webber missing a tying three at the buzzer. It was as if the loss at home to a physically inferior Lakers team broke them in ways not visible to the eye. In their “Yes we can” moment, they failed, and from there on all the bravado and talent in the world couldn’t get them to truly believe that again. Players faltered physically … Read more...